As our global population ages, conflicts and difficult conversations emerge. How will older adults decide who will make end-of-life health and financial decisions for them? When will dad need to move out of his home and into long-term care? We can’t have mom living with us anymore because it’s just too hard. Why are my children fighting over where I will live? Why is my son taking money from me? These are challenging scenarios that ever-increasing numbers of people are facing. Sometimes these difficulties are discussed in catastrophic terms:
Untenable health-care costs
Exhausted pension funds
Crises in home-care and long-term housing
And other concerns.
Certainly, there are some reasons to worry; however, the challenges facing older adults can be an opportunity for positive change. The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Older Adults is about providing safe and respectful processes to assist in resolving conflict and addressing abuse involving older adults, families, caregivers, and communities. Authors Wendy Meek and Julie Friesen explore ideas to help connect and support people, building on the strengths and capacities of older adults and their families, in order to strengthen communities. Restorative justice dialogues help older adults and their families talk constructively and safely to find ways to move forward together.
Wendy Meek currently supervises the Elder Mediation Program at Community Justice Initiatives, a nonprofit, restorative justice organization in Kitchener, Canada. Wendy has many years of experience assisting victims and offenders, as well as community members in addressing and resolving conflict and crime. She facilitates circles, mediations, and groups and is also a passionate speaker on the topic of restorative justice and older adults. She lives in Cambridge, Ontario.
Julie Friesen is a director of programs at Community Justice Initiatives. She has been involved in conflict resolution, mediation, and management positions since 1997. Julie has conflict resolution experience ranging from elder mediations, workplace conflicts, neighborhood disputes, and criminal court mediations. She holds an M.A. in sociology from the University of Kansas. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario.